GST rates in India

New GST rates in India

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India is a comprehensive, multi-stage, destination-based tax that is levied on every value addition. It has four primary tax slabs for various goods and services. Here’s a breakdown of the current GST rates in India:

​Updated GST Rates in India for 2024
The GST rates in India for 2024 have been updated and categorized into several slabs: 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key rates for various goods and services:

5% GST Rate:

  • Skimmed milk powder
  • Cashew nuts
  • Footwear (priced below ₹500)
  • Milk food for babies
  • Apparel (priced below ₹1000)
  • Fabric
  • Coir mats, matting, and floor covering
  • Spices
  • Coal
  • Indian sweets (Mishti/Mithai)
  • Life-saving drugs
  • Coffee (excluding instant coffee)

12% GST Rate:

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Computers
  • Processed food
  • Almonds
  • Mobile phones
  • Fruit juice
  • Packed coconut water
  • Umbrellas

18% GST Rate:

  • Hair oil
  • Capital goods
  • Toothpaste
  • Industrial intermediaries
  • Soap
  • Ice cream
  • Pasta
  • Toiletries
  • Corn flakes
  • Soups
  • Computers and printers

28% GST Rate (includes additional cess on some items):

  • Small cars (+1% or 3% cess)
  • High-end motorcycles (+15% cess)
  • Consumer durables like ACs and refrigerators
  • Luxury items such as high-end cars, cigarettes, and aerated drinks (+15% cess)
  • Changes and Highlights:

Newly Reduced Rates:

  • Pencil sharpeners: Reduced from 18% to 12%
  • Rab (liquid jaggery): Reduced from 18% to 5% if prepackaged, otherwise nil
  • Ethyl alcohol supplied to refineries: Reduced from 18% to 5%
  • Cattle feed and its components: Reduced from 5% to nil

Increased Rates:

  • Tetra packs: Increased from 12% to 18%
  • Polished and cut diamonds: Increased from 0.25% to 1.50%
  • Tar: Consolidated to a single rate of 18% from previous 5% and 18% rates

​Elimination of Exemptions:

Several items previously exempt are now subject to GST, such as printed maps and parts of goods under heading 8801 (spacecraft and spacecraft launch vehicles).

Correction of Inverted Tax Structure:

Adjustments have been made in sectors like solar water heaters and certain types of leather processing, where the GST rate has been increased from 5% to 12%.

GST Structure

1. Types of GST:
- CGST: Central GST, collected by the Central Government.
- SGST: State GST, collected by the State Governments.
- IGST: Integrated GST, collected by the Central Government for inter-state transactions and imports.

GST Slabs

1. 0% (Nil Rate):
- Examples: Unprocessed food items (like fresh fruits, vegetables), educational services, healthcare services.
- Significance: Essential goods and services, aimed at making them affordable.

2. 5%:
- Examples: Household necessities (edible oil, sugar, spices, tea, coffee), transportation services (economy class air travel), basic clothing and footwear (up to a certain value), small restaurants.
- Significance: Items of mass consumption, ensuring affordability.

3. 12%:
- Examples: Processed food items (butter, cheese), computers, processed fruits, business class air travel, non-luxury hotels (with room tariff between ₹1,000 to ₹7,500).
- Significance: Standard rate for certain goods and services, balancing revenue and consumer impact.

4. 18%:
- Examples: Consumer goods (soaps, toothpaste, hair oil), services (telecom, IT services), financial services, non-essential services, hotels with room tariff between ₹7,500 to ₹10,000.
- Significance: Major rate covering most goods and services, significant for revenue generation.

5. 28%:
- Examples: Luxury items (high-end cars, motorcycles), luxury hotels (room tariff above ₹10,000), tobacco, aerated water, cement, consumer durables (ACs, refrigerators).
- Significance: Higher rate for luxury and sin goods, discouraging consumption and generating higher revenue.

Compensation Cess

Certain items, particularly luxury and sin goods, attract an additional compensation cess. This is over and above the GST rate and is used to compensate states for any revenue loss due to the implementation of GST. Examples include:
- Luxury cars
- Tobacco products
- Aerated drinks

How GST Works

1. Input Tax Credit (ITC):
• Businesses can claim credit for the tax paid on inputs (raw materials, services) against the tax payable on output (finished goods, services). This avoids the cascading effect of taxes (tax on tax).
2. Destination-Based Taxation
• GST is collected at the point of consumption rather than the point of origin. This means the state where the goods or services are consumed gets the revenue.

Example Scenario

Imagine you run a restaurant:
- Purchases:
You buy raw materials (vegetables, spices) which are taxed at 5%.
- Sales:
You sell meals which are also taxed at 5%.

You can claim the input tax credit for the GST paid on raw materials, reducing your overall tax liability.

Benefits of GST

1. Simplification:
• Merges several state and central taxes into one, reducing compliance complexity.
2. Efficiency:
• Reduces the cascading effect of taxes, lowering overall tax burden.
3. Uniformity:
• Ensures a uniform tax rate across the country, promoting ease of business.


1. Compliance:
 Regular filing of returns and maintenance of detailed records can be burdensome for small businesses.
2. Rate Changes:
 Frequent updates by the GST Council require businesses to stay informed and adapt swiftly.

Understanding these aspects of GST helps businesses optimize their tax processes and consumers understand the tax component in pricing. When considering the implications and impact of GST rates, several factors come into play for different stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, and policymakers. Here are key considerations:

For Businesses

1. Compliance and Administration:
- Record Keeping:
• Detailed records of all transactions, input tax credits, and GST filings must be maintained.
- Regular Filings:
• Monthly, quarterly, and annual GST returns are required, necessitating a robust accounting system.

2. Cash Flow Management:
- Input Tax Credit (ITC):
• Effective management of ITC can improve cash flow. Delays in receiving ITC can impact working capital.
- Timely Payments:
• Ensuring timely payment of GST to avoid penalties and interest.

3. Pricing Strategy:
- Cost Pass-Through:
• Deciding how much of the GST burden to pass on to consumers while remaining competitive.
- Cost Absorption:
• In some cases, businesses may absorb GST costs to maintain market share.

4. Supply Chain Impact:
- Vendor Relationships:
• Working with GST-compliant vendors to ensure seamless credit claims.
- Logistics and Distribution:
• Reassessing supply chain efficiency as GST is a destination-based tax.

For Consumers

1. Price Changes:
- Essential Goods:
Lower tax rates on essential items help keep prices stable.
- Luxury Items:
Higher rates on luxury goods can make these products more expensive.

2. Transparency:
- Tax Breakdown:
Consumers receive a clear breakdown of the tax component in their purchases, promoting transparency.
- Cost Awareness:
Better understanding of the tax impact on various goods and services.

For Policymakers

1. Revenue Generation:
- Balanced Rates: Setting GST rates to balance revenue needs with the goal of not overburdening consumers and businesses.
- Collection Efficiency: Ensuring efficient tax collection mechanisms to minimize evasion.

2. Economic Impact:
- Inflation Control: Careful rate adjustments to avoid triggering inflation.
- Growth Promotion: Supporting sectors that drive economic growth with favorable tax rates.

3. Equity and Fairness:
- Progressive Taxation:
Higher rates on luxury and non-essential items to promote equity.
- Support for SMEs:
Simplified compliance and possible lower rates for small and medium enterprises to encourage business activity.

Specific Considerations for Various Sectors

1. Manufacturing:
- Capital Goods: Impact of GST on machinery and equipment costs, which are crucial for production.
- Exports: GST implications on export competitiveness and refund mechanisms.

2. Service Sector:
- Different Rates: Various services attract different GST rates, impacting pricing and profitability.
- Bundled Services: Complexity in tax calculation for bundled services with different GST rates.

3. Real Estate:
- Construction Services: GST on construction materials and services affects overall project costs.
- Affordable Housing: Preferential GST rates to promote affordable housing initiatives.

4. Retail:
- Inventory Management: Efficient handling of tax credits and stock management.
- Consumer Pricing: Strategies to incorporate GST into retail pricing without affecting demand.

Understanding and considering the implications of GST rates involves a multi-faceted approach, addressing compliance, financial management, and strategic planning. For businesses, it is crucial to stay updated with GST regulations and optimize operations to leverage benefits like input tax credits. Consumers benefit from transparency and potentially lower prices on essential goods, while policymakers must strive for a balance that promotes economic growth and equity.

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GST rates in India
Maniraj Anantham 22 May, 2024
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